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Soundtrack music: the dub/punk prog of Hardcore Crayons

Hardcore Crayons is a power trio of friends from the North Metro.

Unlike most bands that formed while its members were in high school, Hardcore Crayons never went through a covers phase.

When they formed in the Twin Cities’ northern suburbs in 2005, guitarist Dan Chizek, bassist Dom Hanft and drummer Jake Kirkman said their taste for complicated arrangements kept them too busy to learn cover songs.

“We tried a cover; it’s impossible,” Chizek said. “It took so much effort to do it. By the time we started learning, we were trying to write songs.”

Hanft echoed Chizek’s sentiments about their difficulty mastering the bar-band staple.

“We’ve covered a couple songs,” Hanft said. “We have a hard enough time making sure our songs are rehearsed enough.”

The band is now celebrating the release of their new record, “Zozzled,” with a show at the Triple Rock Social Club on Friday.

The band’s catalogue consists primarily of instrumentals, but some songs include vocals as well. Hardcore Crayons focuses on its sound more than lyrical content in songwriting, Chizek said.

“People get pissed I don’t have any lyrics. Who cares? You can hear the melody,” he said.

Chizek and Hanft said the band’s songs work like a score for a film.

“They make sense for writing a story around,” Hanft said. “The vocals are used as an additional instrument, more so than delivering any sort of lyrical base.”

The band cited jazz as its members’ common influence and said that jazz nights at the Icehouse in Minneapolis informed how the band approaches playing live.

“It’s not improv, but … there’s a lot of looking at each other,” Chizek said.

Kirkman more eloquently elaborated on the band’s live frenetic groove.

“There’s certain things that we let loose on,” Kirkman said. “It makes us listen to each other.”

He said the band’s complex rhythms have persisted throughout its growth.

“It was a transition from weird funk to punk to ska to funk to dub,” Kirkman said.

Hardcore Crayons’ signature sound reflects the band name’s equally strange genesis: the third grade.

The name Hardcore Crayons comes from “someone that Dan knew in elementary school,” said Hanft.

“He was like, ‘I’m going to name a band Hardcore Crayons, and you better not take that name,’” Chizek said. “Little did I know, right when I got out of high school, I remembered that name.”

Now a few albums in, the trio’s upcoming show should reflect the new album’s live feel.

Though the band’s first releases were recorded part-by-part, Hardcore Crayons captured “Zozzled” live in the studio to showcase the music’s time signature craziness.

“The way we play off each other from song to song, we knew that we needed to start recording live,” Hanft said. “It’s frustrating wearing headphones and being by yourself in a room. It feels so less organic than how we actually sound.”

Kirkman and Chizek said the band’s old method of recording to a tempo-steadying click track was inauthentic.

“Focusing on the click for certain changes throws you for a loop,” Kirkman said.

“Click tracks are for Green Day,” Chizek said with a laugh.



What: Hardcore Crayons album release show

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Triple Rock Social Club, 629 S. Cedar Ave., Minneapolis

Cost: $5-7

Age: 18+

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